This isn't my idea of a fun date, watching Grandpa play onstage. It's still funny though.
I had never listened to Grandpa’s music; fiddles, trombones, and tambourines weren’t exactly my thing. I think a lot of other people in town agreed with me, because it looks like my family took up more than half the audience.
I sound bitter and I probably should be happy for my grandfather, but I had a date planned tonight; one that didn’t involve listening to a group of old men playing instruments. Howie said it would be okay to change plans, and insisted on coming with me. That would be why I am pretending that I wasn’t a part of my crazy music-obsessed group and claiming a couple seats near the back of the auditorium instead.
“So which one’s ‘Old Man Ronnie?’” Howie whispers in my direction, and my eyes scan the five members on stage. I see a hunched man on a stool to the right, and then lift my hand slightly, extending a finger in the man’s direction.
“The one there on the right, with the cello,” I tell him quietly, and he grins.
“You know, this isn’t a bad turn of events,” he says lightly, and I quirk a brow as I turn to look at him. Disbelief colours my voice as I respond to his comment.
“Oh? How would you say this is a good one?”
“Well, think about it,” he says, leaning against my shoulder and tugging a loose lock of hair draped over my face, “how many times in your life can you claim to get to watch a bunch of geezers play music?”
I can’t but let the infectious smile spread over my lips, closing my eyes and shaking my head. Only Howard would find a way to make a horrible evening worth remembering.
“Well, if you’re a part of my family… a weekly basis,” I remind him, and he shrugs.
“Your family is obsessed with music, so that doesn’t really count.”
He had a point. My grandfather was a teenager when Last Call first started playing, and it was four years later that me met the singer Lucy Rivers and married, having my father and his three sisters. Two aunts sing, one plays piano, and my father plays guitar at the local bar every week. My mother is a karaoke fanatic, and she also plays piano. She met my father at a recital with my aunt, and she has seven siblings with musical talent of some kind, one even teaches music at the high school two cities away.
I have four siblings myself, and I am the only one who doesn’t play an instrument or sing. Family gatherings can feel rather like a torture session after ten minutes of being asked when I will start learning to play.
The audience hushes as a lone note rings out through the room, the sound automatically registering in my mind as a violin. A not-fully tuned one either. I wince slightly as another out-of-tune instrument joins the first. I have a feeling that I definitely would not forget tonight, if for different reasons than I first thought.
As the band starts up, my grandfather just sits there with his eyes closed, nodding slightly. I have heard this song enough times to know that he had missed his cue to enter. The band kept playing without Grandpa, and I just sat back with a small grin.
Halfway through the song the man with the trombone, Riley, knocked his microphone over during a very enthusiastic swing, and the clatter that rang loudly throughout the auditorium had everyone smacking their hands over their ears to try to block the ringing. Grandpa, on the other hand, jerked his head up, and started playing in the silence that had followed the microphone. It didn’t seem to matter that no-one was playing, but he started singing from the beginning as he dragged his bow across the perfectly-tuned cello.
“I remember the first time I saw you…” He sang deeply, and I just threw my head back and laughed. Howie was gripping my arm as he joined in.
I definitely wasn’t forgetting tonight.
As we exited the building, Howie leaned over and whispered to me, “I only saw five men up there, wasn’t there seven originally?”
I grin at him, humour dancing in my eyes.
“Two don’t remember ever being in a band, so they didn’t come.”